Utah took steps past fly-over state status and welcomed political heavyweight Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY) to the consistently red state in the midst of this heated election season.
The former presidential candidate used the opportunity to lend her support to the Utah Democratic Party in the elections on both the local and national levels.
Hordes of fans packed the Utah Cultural Celebration Center in West Valley City for the rally held on Saturday Oct. 25. The city, excited over the momentous visit, planted trees on behalf of Sen. Clinton’s appearance.
Local Democratic leaders and candidates preceded Sen. Clinton with short speeches, including words from Salt Lake City Mayor Ralph Becker, County Councilman Randy Horiuchi and Lt. Gov. candidate Josie Valdez.
Clinton arrived from her motorcade, stepped up to the podium in front of a standing ovation, and immediately said, “I’m here with a very simple message. Democrats are coming back in Utah and we’re going to elect Barack.” The crowd, filled with Democrat donors and supporters, erupted in applause over the Senator’s suggestion.
The attendees ranged from longtime Clinton supporters, the elderly and young children. An elderly man walked the aisles distributing stickers of the American flag while sporting historical Clinton campaign gear. Many wielded campaign signs, including 4-year-old Mary Amelia Minkevitch from Plain City Utah. As she held an Obama/Biden sign, her father Matt said that Mary is “excited for the change this country is about to go through.”
Clinton ushered in a chorus of boos from the crowd when she admitted that Sen. John McCain would likely win Utah’s electoral votes in the election. Without skipping a beat, she then projected that Obama will win the White House this year, and carry the state when he seeks his second term as president in 2012.
Sen. Clinton explained the differences between the two parties, saying that Democrats “have reached beyond our own interests. We’ve stood up for the middle class, joined together, and helped our neighbors. We are the party that reaches out, and sits on our front porches instead of our back. We are there for each other. And that is the resounding difference.”
Emotions peaked anytime a reference was made in support of Barack Obama, Clinton’s former rival in the Democratic primaries. Clinton contrasted the Bush administration with the one that Obama will assemble if he wins, stressing that Obama will be able to shift focus away from the problems she sees in the current administration.
“There is a pattern here. It took a Democratic president to clean up after the first President Bush,” Clinton said. “It will take a Democratic president to clean up after the second President Bush.”
She finished up her remarks by applauding Utah Democrats, “You are a hearty brand. Democrats in Utah spent a couple years on the endangered species list. You don’t give up, which is why I don’t give up.”
The overall theme of the rally was change, reform and new outlooks in Utah, a historically dominant Republican state. The eager crowd who showed up hours before Sen. Clinton’s arrival remained after, thronging for autographs, pictures and handshakes.